A Percale Crossover Gown (CoBloWriMo #29)

The CoBloWriMo prompt for today is “Ensemble”. It made me realize that I have not yet shown you my new crossover Regency gown. The gown will be the base for future ensembles. I have plans to make a sleeveless bodice and an open robe to have different options for topping it off.

When doing some research I found that there are much fewer surviving crossover gowns than other styles. Here is a pretty golden one. Have a look at the apron front closure which is pinned over a bodice extension. My gown closes in the exact same way. :)

Regency crossover gown, c. 1810-20 (Source: Vintagetextile.com).

View of the apron front closure (Source: Vintagetextile.com).

In fashion plates and paintings, there are a few more representations of crossover gowns. Date-wise, different crossover styles were especially “en vogue” in the late 1790s and then again in the mid-late 1810s. Below you can see two plates, one from each decade. The first is a crossover round gown and the second a French percale gown.

Plate of a crossover round gown, c. 1798.

Robe de Percale, Costume Parisien, c. 1816.

Speaking of percale… When I found this plate, my heart leapt a little. The fabric I used for my gown is also a percale! I realized as much after first blogging about it here. Only my gown is much plainer and does not have such a delicious vandyke trim. In fact, I did not yet trim it at all. Perhaps a ruffle or two will magically appear, once I know what the rest of the ensemble will look like. ;)

Here is the finished crossover gown. I made it using the Laughing Moon crossover gown, tunic and pelisse pattern. The fabric is a woven check cotton percale. After the photoshoot did not go ahead as planned, there are still no photos of me wearing it. So, for now, the dressform will have to do the job.

The finished crossover gown.

The back view. I made the skirt without the optional train.

The side view. The gown has a very “Regency-esque” silhouette, even without underpinnings.

A closer look at the crossover front. You can see where the skirt ties over the bodice.

I am glad to finally share this with you. After the first fitting, I already know that it wears pretty well. Here is hoping that I can finally take it for a stroll soon. :)

Cheers, Nessa

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1630s Petticoat Plans (CoBloWriMo #27)

With the stays all done and dusted, it is time to plan ahead. A matching under-petticoat will be next. Since I am not very eager on making a farthingale of any kind, I have chosen to go with a 1630s look. Technically farthingales were already going out of fashion in France by 1620. But, better safe than sorry. ;)

The petticoat will be made of tropical wool. It is not too heavy and has enough body to support the upper layers, with or without a bumroll. I will loosely base it on these instructions by Anne Danvers. 

Up until the 1630s, cartridge pleating was the way forward. This van Dyck painting shows a good example of it. You can see the distinct skirt shape through the girl’s apron.

Portrait of a Young Girl by Anthony van Dyck (c. 1630).

With my cartridge pleating skills being more than rusty, I looked up a few cartridge pleating tutorials. Drea’s and Jennifer’s instructions were both very helpful to jog my memory. Before I get going on my petticoat, I did a quick trial run. For it, I found a willing “victim”… ;)

Practicing cartridge pleats on Cal. ;)

After this little test, I think I can start making my own, bigger petticoat. Wish me luck!

Yours, Nessa

A Flowery Regency Straw Bonnet (CoBloWriMo #26 & HSM #8)

As you might have noticed, finishing up the 1620s stays, and a bum roll on top, has completely knocked me off the blogging train this week. So here is a catch-up post filling out several CoBloWriMo prompts (namely Small Project, Made For Myself, Event, Favourite Resource, and Media) and telling you about the straw bonnet I made for the current Historical Sew Monthly challenge. But, one after the other, before anyone gets dizzy.

First off, the “event” I made it for is the prospective photoshoot I told you about last month. In my area there are few costume groups I know and big reenactment events are few and far between. So I cannot usually attend them without traveling quite some distances. But, on the plus side, there is a lot of scenery around, such as a baroque city center nearby and a few pictorial hunting lodges. For my birthday last month, we went to Schwerin, which has a beautiful castle and park with a Georgian colonnade and all . It would have been perfect for photos. Then the weather made photos impossible with stints of pouring rain, followed by singeing sun. And traipsing in the mud would have ruined the gown…. Oh well, maybe next time.

The design for the bonnet was inspired by this French fashion plate from 1810. Especially by the second last one on the far left and a bit by the first on the far right side.

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Fashion plate of different bonnets, caps and toques from Costume Parisien (c. 1810).

This brings us to the “Media” and “Rescource” section of this post. ;) I have to say that I loove Regency-era journals and magazines such as “Ackermann’s Repository” or “La Belle Assemblée”. Mostly, for the many fashion plates but also for the other period contents, such as letters to editors, etiquette or fashion advisors, short stories, poems and musical notes. Since I got to work with extant issues of Ackermann’s Repository in person, I am more or less enchanted. I even own a Franco-German volume of “Journal des Dames”, which was a total chance find. Sadly it has no fashion plates, only the French descriptions, with German translations on every other page.

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My pride, a French-German volume of “Journal des Dames et des Modes” (c.1828).

Thanks to the Internet, many journals and plates are now freely accessible online, for all those who cannot simply pop into the nearest historical fashion archive. This is why online library databases are one of my favorite resources. These are the ones I use the most:

The Library of Congress, mostly for copies of Ackermann’s Repository, but also some fashion books.

Gallica for French journals, mainly Journal des Dames.

Google Books has some issues of La Belle Assemblée and Wiener Moden-Zeitung available. If you have no yet found a PDF copy of “Workwoman’s Guide”, you can also find it here. :)

But now, to the finished bonnet! Here it is. I used some ruffled fabric carnations and lavender ribbon for it. At first I was also contemplating white ostrich plumes. But eventually, those were saved for future projects. :)

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The finished bonnet.

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A look at the ribbon tie, wrapped under and over the crown.

I finished everything in the course of one evening, with my father looking on. When he was little, his mother befriended a professional milliner, so he has always been excited about hats and hat-making; although trimming this bonnet was nothing much to look at.

Here are the challenge facts to give you a better idea of how the bonnet came together:

The Challenge: #8 – Ridiculous.
Some of the headgear worn in the Regency era looks a bit ridiculous to the modern eye but was very stylish in the period. To make my bonnet less boring, I placed the flowers in a rather unusual way.

Materials: A pre-made straw bonnet I bought at Nehelenia Patterns some years ago; fabric flowers; satin ribbon.

Notions: Matching cotton threads.

Pattern: Based on an 1810 fashion plate.

Year: 1800-15

Time to complete: Roundabout 4 hours.

How historically accurate is it? Somewhat accurate.
The maker shaped the bonnet based on period templates. But the trimmings are made of modern materials.

First worn: Not yet. It was meant for a photoshoot, but the weather did not play along.

Total cost: About € 30 for the bonnet and € 4 for the trimmings.

Love, Nessa

The Edict of 1634 – A look at French Sumptuary Laws (CoBloWriMo #17)

As promised earlier this month, I have taken a look at the French sumptuary laws of 1634 for the CoBloWriMo “Written Source” theme. Since I am in the middle of making a 1620s-30s costume for a French persona, they were a must for my research, to make the outfit credible for the time period. When I looked around for sources and information on sumptuary laws in fashion, I mostly stumbled across accounts of Tudor or Elizabethan laws. For example you can find good summaries of these two legislations here, here and here.

There is much less material on the French Edict of 1634 to be found online. To be fair, the earlier English versions comprised large rule books of “who wears what”, much like they existed in the Middle Ages. Compared to them, the French sumptuary laws look almost puny. There are a whole of eight articles in the edict, mainly but not only dealing with clothing. For this post I worked with the latest version that was issued under Louis XIII on May 9th, 1634. You can find the original print here on Gallica. Other edicts that were more or less similar were in place before, with the first ones dating back to the regency of Marie de Medicis.

Around 1633, engravings appeared depicting the effects of the latest edict. Like this courtier discarding all the fancy rags he is no longer allowed to wear. In practice, however, sumptuary regulations were handled relatively laxly. This is no surprise, seeing how they were notoriously hard to police or enforce. The general rule of thumb seems to have been that, the higher your social status, the more you got away with. But, of course, others could report you if they wanted to get you in trouble. Though, somehow, I cannot see this happening much. ;)

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“Le Courtisan suivant le dernier édit” by Abraham Bosse (c. 1633)

What follows is a brief lowdown on the eight main articles, loosely translated and with some commentary for those of you who are interested in fashion laws and those looking to dress their French 1630s persona in the proper style. I just went ahead and translated everything, also those parts irrelevant to fashion itself, just to show the full scope of the edict. Comments are in round brackets (), additions for better understanding in square ones []. Here we go:

I) No cloth of gold or silver, no gold or silver ornaments.

All subjects are forbidden to wear clothing or accessories, such as belts, baldricks or sword belts, hat bands, garters aglets, scarves and laces (rubans, best understood as ribbon ties in this context) in cloth of gold or silver; with fringes, trims or embroidery of pearls or precious stones, [gold or silver] embossed patterns, cords, filigree (cannetilles) [or] buttons. [V]elvet, satin, taffeta or any other  silk fabrics, [such as] crepe or gauze, linens, striped, intermixed, laced or covered in gold or silver.

All those were forbidden on pain of confiscation although I wonder what they did with them then. In my mind I have this naughty image of the king playing dress-up. Though, probably not… ;)

II) Fine clothing was to be made of silks with no more than two rows of embellishments, each no more than 1 digit (approx. 3/4″) wide. Men could only wear trims in few places.

The finest clothing is to be made of silk fabrics, unadorned except for two rows of silk embroidery or trim (the later articles also mention braids as a third option). Each row cannot be wider than 1 doigt (digit, approx. 3/4″).
On men’s clothes, the embellishment cannot be placed around the collar or the bottom of a cloak/mantle, the shaft or side of their shoes, sleeve seams or upper sleeves, at the center back, around button closures or at the basque (this most likely refers to the bottom of doublets).

And yes, these places could NOT hold any embellishments. I double checked this. But, looking at the engraving above, almost completely unadorned male clothing was the aim of the edict. For women and children, more embellishments were allowed; see the next article.

III) Women’s, girl’s and children’s clothes could hold the prescribed two rows of embellishments in more places than men’s clothes.

The aforementioned braids (galons), embroideries and trims are only to be attached to the tops or bottoms of gowns and skirts as well as in the middle of the sleeves, also around the body or basques of gowns.

IV) No other ornaments as those mentioned before are allowed.

Other ornaments like Italian lace (broderie de Milan) or other satin embroideries (here, “broderie” most likely refers to needle lace, though) […] are forbidden on pain of confiscation.

The list goes on, spanning most of the items already mentioned under the first article, like filigree or buttons, so I left them out here.

V) No silk clothing is to be given to servants. They are supposed to wear wool, trimmed with minimal braiding.

No silk clothes are to be given to pages, servants or coachmen. They ought to be clad in wool, without velvet trim or embroidery, except for two rows of braid on the sleeves or outside of the garment.

VI) Strict punishment for those producing forbidden items of clothing.

Dressmakers, embroiderers [lace makers], doublet makers, shoemakers or others are forbidden from producing any of the banned items on pain of denouncement and exclusion from their trades.

To us this may sound harmless, but being put out of their trade meant losing their entire livelihood since it was not possible to simply enter into another trade. This was indeed a very harsh punishment.

VII) Certain metallic items could still be gold or silver.

In spite of the aforementioned ban on gold and silver ornaments, sword guards, scabbards and buckles on belts, sword belts, baldricks or hatbands can still be in gold or silver.

VIII) Material restrictions for coach builders with strict punishment of violations.

Coach builders are prohibited from using gold embroidery or embellishments inside coaches or on [seat] cushions, […] to gilt wood or line coach interiors with silk fabrics on pain of denouncement and exclusion from their trade.

With this one, I keep wondering what triggered it. Gut feeling tells me that some nobles rode in coaches more lavish than the royal ones. Looking at this article, they were probably on par with the later imperial train carriages… oh my!

In summary, the Edict of 1634 is brief and concise about its restrictions. Officially, class differences as existed in earlier sumptuary laws were not given. Though court wear has still to be seen as separate from these laws, especially as far as high nobility is concerned. A lady of quality would try and dress like the young woman in this 1634 engraving.

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“La Dame reformée suivant l’édit dernier” by Grégoire Huret (c. 1632-34).

For my persona *cheerful wave at Mademoiselle Désirée*, who is from a distinguished noble family but also more modest than most, it means less is more. Sadly, we will have to say good riddance to the super cute linen waistcoat with the silver stripes. However, nothing speaks against some good-quality embellishments. And, of course, the high nobility got away with wearing their gold and silver pretties. At least, according to period painters…

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The king’s brother rocking some serious gold and bling in 1634 (“Gaston de France” by Antony van Dyck, 1634; Musée Condé).

Nessa

Costume Plans For 2017

It seems the promise to bring you up to speed with this year’s costume plans “soon” now translates into “come April”.  Oops! This is what happens when you get caught between job hunting and moving house… The latter has just been accomplished successfully. So now the update on my historical sewing plans for 2017 can finally go ahead.

Without consciously planning it, my 2017 motto will be “A hundred years forward, two hundred years back” with respect to my usual Regency-era comfort zone. This means I want to work on some costume items from both the 1920s and the French cavalier era, around 1625-30. Both periods are well outside my comfort zone, so I am also planning some Regency items, to steady my nerves in between learning about new-to-me eras. ;)

The 1920s endeavor has already been underway since December. So far, I have finished four pieces for a basic 1920s evening wardrobe. With the evening mantle I made for the Historical Sew Monthly’s March challenge, all that is still missing for now is a matching bra. The plan is to get cracking on it at some point later this year. The pattern for it will come from a 1925 French fashion magazine. And, of course, I will show you the other finished items in a series of catch-up posts!

Brassiere pattern from “La Mode du jour” (1925). Click image for a PDF pattern!

The next big, slightly crazy, project I am just about to start is a journey to the late 1620s. Some time ago, I rediscovered my childhood love of “The Three Musketeers”. This also threw me into a little research frenzy on Cavalier Era costume. This way I learned that it is among the somewhat less popular and more scarcely researched costume eras. Though with the new Renaissance Costume books by Jenny Tiramani, Susan North and colleagues coming out, there has been more general interest lately. And, of course, I jumped right at the challenge…

For now I am hoping to put together one ensemble, to get a feel for the period. I am trying to keep it simple with a smock, bodice/stays, a bum roll (which I already have, yay!), petticoat, overdress and stomacher. Right now I am about to pattern a smock from “Patterns of Fashion 4”. The one in the picture is in the book, too. But I might be leaning more towards a low-neck version at the moment. We shall see how this quest will end! ;)

Woman’s linen smock, Museum of London (c. 1600-18).

The plan to make an overdress came together the moment I saw this gorgeous violet gown at Rüstkammer Dresden. Is it not absolutely lovely?

Violet silk overdress, German, Rüstkammer Dresden (c. 1630-35).

A flat lace collar is also in planning, but perhaps not for this year. I quite like the one in this painting from the 1630s:

Young lady with a plumed headdress, Artist unknown, Manchester City Galleries (c. 1633).

Now that we have arrived at plumes and portraits, I want to share one of my favorite Baroque paintings with you. Naturally my first go at the era will look nothing like this lady’s stunning velvet costume. But, there is nothing wrong with some motivation for the future. :)

Portrait of Saskia van Uylenburg by Rembrandt (c. 1633-34), Gemäldegalerie Kassel.

Aside from these two huge detours in time, some Regency sewing will also be happening. My first Regency project this spring will be a simple white dress to combine with more colorful accessories. I am going for something basic that is not super sheer and matches well with a range of styles. Something like this neat gown in the Met Museum collection:

Sprigged cotton dress, American, Metropolitan Museum (c. 1800-05).

For it I am using the Laughing Moon #130 wrapping front gown pattern. As a sleeve option I am favoring elbow-length sleeves. They are simply the best sleeve option if you ask me. Who agrees?

Laughing Moon Mercantile pattern #130.

Last but not least, this brings me to the aforementioned “colorful accessories”. For this year, I am aiming to make a sleeveless bodice/spencer to go with the white dress. Shape-wise I am looking at something like this one from the Met:

Cotton bodice, American, Metropolitan Museum (early 19th century).

But I want mine to add a splotch of color to the outfit, like the orange example in the fashion plate below. Also have a look at the lady’s wacky “bonnet” hairdo. I have a scrap of leftover IKEA reproduction cotton set aside for my bodice. The floral pattern should be really fun to work with. I am so excited to see how it will turn out!

Fashion plate from Costume Parisien (c.1800).

To be honest, as excited as I am for the Regency projects I have laid out for 2017 so far (maybe some more will follow), I am more than a bit nervous about my self-imposed 17th-century mammoth project. No matter how well it will go, the chances of finishing everything this year are slim. On the upside, you might get to see even more Regency items when things are stalling. ;) I know I can count on your moral support with this challenge and promise not to mope too much when things take up the next five years or so…

For now it is back to the sewing table with me. At the moment, the smock and Regency gown are pulling straws to see which one will be made up first. ;) I will keep you posted on the outcome. Thank you for your ongoing patience with me and the blog!

Much love, Nessa

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A Shortgown At Last

Finally, I got to compile the long-overdue post on my beloved shortgown I finished a few months ago. To start off, here is the finished product: I took these pictures after wearing it to one of my very first costume events (a historical market) so it is not perfectly pressed. ;)

The finished shortgown.

The finished shortgown.

The back, with pleats and a little bow.

The back, with pleats and a little bow.

The fabric I used was a gift from a dear friend who is a Regency/Federal-era costumer herself. She was very, very kind to send it across the Pond after I had spent weeks not finding a suitable fabric for the gown I liked. I am so glad she could help me out. But before I got to work with this beautiful fabric, which is a light, printed quilting cotton, I delved into research to get inspired about possible patterns.

Some Research
To begin with, shortgowns were present in women’s wardrobes in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the 18th century the were also often known as bedgowns or manteaux de lit. And, while the general style of the gown stayed the same over time, some little details in the cut and shaping changed: Earlier versions of shortgowns were often cut from one piece and more or less symmetrical, with a front opening and a flared skirt section, shaped using pleating and / or tucking. Marquise wrote up some very good instructions for an 18th-century bedgown, based on Garsault’s book, here. Another example for this style, but with a more flared skirt, is the Kallfors gown from Sweden. The reproduction in the link also comes with a pattern. :)

And, while one-piece versions seemed to have been the rule, it is not uncommon to find gowns where the skirt section has been pieced on. This was done in the Kallfors shortgown, too. But it is not easy to spot from further away. Here is another Swedish example from Digitalt Museum where the piecing is more obvious in the lovely, bold stripe pattern.

A mid 18th-century Swedish bedgown from Digitalt Museum.

A mid 18th-century Swedish bedgown from Digitalt Museum.

As time went on towards the Regency era, narrower shoulders and slightly deeper necklines made an appearance as working-class women began to adapt the look that was fashionable at the time. Isabella of the Two Nerdy History Girls wrote a very nice post that sums up these developments. With the changes in shaping, neckline and waist drawstring began to be used in shortgowns. Here is a Dutch example from the very early 19th century that seems to have a neckline drawstring and sports a leaner silhouette than the more flared earlier gowns.

Early 19th-century shortgown from Friesland (Source: Memory of the Netherlands database).

Early 19th-century shortgown from Friesland (Source: Memory of the Netherlands database).

Another Dutch gown, where the drawstrings are a bit more prominent is this brown one. It has a visible join and drawstring at the waits, though the join might also be a casing sewn as a tuck. To me, this one looks super cute and very “Regency” and so it became the main inspiration for my project. Below, I will tell you how I went about making it.

Another Dutch shortgown, probably 19th century, from Amsterdam Museum.

Another Dutch shortgown, probably 19th century, from Amsterdam Museum.

The Making
To make mine, I played around with the Sense & Sensibility ELC pattern I used for my stripe dress last winter. I went with the long-sleeve version of the bodice pattern. The only difference was that I included a front opening. For this, I added an overlap of 3/4″ at the center front and cut two halves of the front piece, instead of a whole one. Here is a photo of my cutting layout and the lovely brown fabric:

The bodice pattern and layout. :)

The bodice pattern and layout. :)

To finish the front overlap, I pressed over 1/8″ and sewed a tiny hand-rolled hem on either side. I think this is how I finally fell in love with making them. They did not take long and came out looking really cute, almost like iced on. After finishing them, I sewed the rest of the bodice according to package… erm pattern instructions. ;)

The 1/8

The 1/8″ rolled hem on the bodice front.

And the finished bodice, with drawstring neckline.

And the finished bodice, with drawstring neckline.

The neckline drawstring casing I made of self-fabric bias binding, also based on the pattern. For the top closure, I sewed two small eyelets into the inside of the casing. They are set off by about 1/2″ so that they tie safely on the inside.

One of the two CF eyelets. :)

One of the two center-front eyelets. Below you also see the casing for the waist drawstring. :)

Like in some of the earlier extant gowns, I also made a separate skirt piece. I had two rectangles for the front that were 8″ long, plus 1 1/4″ for the top and bottom seams. They attach to the back piece at the bodice’s side seam. For the back piece, I played around with the pattern’s skirt piece, which has a curved top seam line. I trimmed it down to 28″ width, to accommodate one box pleat at center back and four small knife pleats on either side. At CB, the piece was about 11″ high and it went down to 8″ on either edge, to fit the front pieces. After sewing the three pieces together, I added two more tiny 1/8″ hems at center front.

The skirt piece, sewn together and hemmed.

The skirt piece, sewn together and hemmed at center front.

After attaching the skirt to the gown, I finished the skirt seam with bias binding. I then sewed it up into the bodice from CF to the side back seam line to form two drawstring casings. The strings tie up to pieces of cord near the back. To finish off, I finally added a little decorative bow to the back. It helps to cinch up the waistline and nicely brings out the pleats. :)

Another “gimmick” my shortgown has is a bodice “lining” piece that keeps everything in place. It was a feature of the S&S pattern and I decided to keep it, since it helps a lot with keeping the gown straight over the stays.

The bodice

The bodice “lining” from scrap fabric.

When I wore it to the event, the lining and outer gown were held together by a total of 30 (!) short pins. And, after spending six hours plus in costume, the whole construction had not budged an inch. I also wore the fichu on the occasion, using even more pins on it and it behaved very well, too. This taught me again that pins really are a great period closure method. And that, no, they do not prick and poke you at all. :D

So, all in all, I am very happy with my first shortgown and actually having worn it “in public” for an event. Here is hoping that I can repeat this again soon.  Until then, it is back to the thesis and more sewing (yay!). Wishing you all a relaxed remainder of the weekend.

Love, Nessa

 

 

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Covering Baby’s Head – Georgian Style

Recently, there have been two new additions to my extended family: Two new baby cousins were born in March and April. They are both girls and look absolutely adorable. To welcome them into their lives, I decided to sew a little gift for each of them. Fitting with the HSM “Protection” challenge, I decided to make a pair of historically inspired baby bonnets. Since I have never sewn any clothing for babies before, it was a sewing adventure I was itching to embark on.

True to my favourite era, I decided to go for a Georgian / early Regency style bonnet. Since time was a bit short to get everything done for the baby girls’ arrival, I opted for a simple style, like the one in this 1801 plate from Costume Parisien:

Mother and child fashion plate; Costume Parisien, c. 1801.

This style corresponds fairly well to this extant American infant’s cap from the late 18th century.

Infant’s cap, second half of the 18th century, American; MFA Boston.

This is the simplest style of period baby caps to be found. It usually consists of two pieces: a narrowly hemmed head-piece and a ruffle or lace edging. Ties were optional and seem to be missing from many surviving bonnets. Beyond this very basic style, quite a lot of bonnets had extra decorations. Lace insets at the back of the head were a very frequent decorative addition, as you can see in this other cap from the MFA.

Infant’s cap with inset lace, 18th century, American; MFA, Boston.

Beyond that, some extant caps show off some very fine, drool-worthy embroidery in white, or sometimes even colored, thread. The early 19th-century example below is one of my favorites. Reaching this skill-level at white embroidery is definitely one of my long-term goals. ;)

Embroider baby cap, early 19th century, British; Textile Museum of Canada.

For my cap, I used Sharon Ann Burnston’s basic 18th-century baby cap pattern and tutorial. The original pattern is sized to fit a very small infant. So, after talking to some other seamstresses who have made it up before and also to the pattern creator herself, I decided to scale it up to about 125% of the size. This way my little cousins can grow into their bonnets over the next few months. :) Here are some detail pictures of how I made up the caps. Since they were so small and my sewing machine needed some maintenance, I sewed everything by hand. It was the quickest, easiest way.

The narrow-hemmed main piece.

After cutting out the pattern from a leftover piece of printed Swiss-dot cotton, I narrowly hemmed the bonnet’s main piece, using the rolled-hem stitch I talked about in this post from last December.

The laddered back edges, sewn 2/3 of the way.

Afterwards, I folded the bonnet in half, butting up the back edges. They were then sewn together about 2/3 of the way from the bottom edge. For this I used a ladder stitch. It is a more or less invisible stitch that can best be described as a straight version of the slip stitch, going from side to side in parallel, horizontal lines.

The radial pleats, outside view.

The radial pleats, inside view.

The open portion at the top of the back edge was gathered into radial pleats, using a circle of evenly spaced gathering stitches, about 1/2″ away from the center. I used a sturdier fillet crochet cotton yarn for this step. Pulling the gathers taut on both sides, created the little rosette you can see in the bottom picture. To secure everything, I tied the thread ends into a firm double knot. Then I back-stitched and buried each thread in the seam.

The lace attached to the bonnet.

Last I stitched some cotton lace to the hemmed edge, all around the cap. After that all I had to do was to add the ties at the “x” marks. For this, I used two 7″ long pieces of 1/2″ wide cotton hem tape. And here is what the finished baby bonnet looks like:

The finished baby bonnet, with ties.

Making one bonnet took about ten hours, or three evenings while taking a break from study and paper writing. ;) I am very happy with the outcome. And, hearing back from the new babies’ mothers, they were very pleased to receive them as a surprise gift in the mail. Now I cannot wait to see the bonnets on my little cousins’, once they have grown into them. :)

I should really try and sew for friends and family more often. But this year, time is extra short *sigh*. Although I am hoping to see you all again very soon.

All the best, Nessa

The Best Of Regency Stripes

Oh dear, has it been three weeks already? But now, the historical sewing mojo is back at last and I finally get to share the first details on my new Regency day dress with you. Yay!

So far, nothing about it has gone according to plan. At first, I was dead-set on making simple white muslin crossover gown. But then, I stumbled upon a sheer woven-stripe muslin in a clearance sale. It was so gorgeous that I fell in love the second I spotted it. Since it was an end piece of roughly four yards, I had to change my plans accordingly: The dress is now going to be a simple early-Regency drawstring gown.

Now that I am making a striped gown, I started looking into the use of striped fabrics in the Regency era. As it turns out, vertical stripes were very popular between 1800 and the mid eighteen-teens. And they came in many shapes, shades and sizes, from woven, over yarn-dyed to printed or painted. In this post, I want to give you a tour of the most gorgeous dresses I have found. There is quite a few of them, so we better get started…

To start off, here is an 1817 miniature of the pregnant Charlotte, Princess of Wales by artist Charlotte Jones. She is wearing what looks like a finely striped dress of sheer muslin or sarcenet:

Miniature of Charlotte, Princess of Wales by Charlotte Jones (c. 1817).

My guess goes more towards the sarcenet, since I lucked into an 1816 fashion plate from Ackermann’s Repository showing an absolutely delicious gown for half-dress, made from red and white striped sarcenet. Also note the contrasting green ribbons.

Red and white sarcenet gown from Ackermann’s Repository (September 1816).

Another illustration I found is an 1810 watercolor drawing by Johann Klein. The blue-and-white fabric design is very close to the one I am working with. That being said, I think that the trims shown here would also work very well on my gown. ;)

German Watercolor sketch by Johann Klein (c. 1810).

Dwelling on the subject of sheer woven-stripe dresses, here are two white cotton muslin gowns from the first decade of the 19th century. The first one is from the collection of the Litchfield Historical Society. It belonged to a Mrs. Lucretia Champion and was made in 1807. The second is pretty similar in fabric design, while showing off a broader stripe.

Woven-stripe muslin dress of Mrs. Lucretia Champion (Litchfield Historical Society, c. 1807).

Striped muslin dress (Tasha Tudor Auctions, c. 1800-1810).

As for colored striped gowns, there is an even wider selection of extant garments yet around. For once, have a look at this gorgeous blue half-silk dress from Nordiska Museet. Especially note the playful bias stripes on the bodice and the fine golden trim contrasting the vertical stripes on the skirt and sleeves. This one is easily one of my most favorite Regency gowns still in existence.

Blue and gold half-silk gown (Nordiska Museet, c. 1815).

Recently, I have found another dress from the V&A Museum that is just as stunning and even more extraordinary for its time. It is made from a yellow cotton knit and the stripes are produced by a change in knitting direction. Before I found it, I had no idea that such a techniques was around this early on…wow.

Striped dress of yellow knitted cotton (Victoria & Albert Museum, c. 1812).

Another dress is this late Georgian / Early Empire cotton gown from the Musee de la Voiture. Even though it looks a little worse for wear nowadays, I think it was a simple, gorgeous dress in its time. Shape-wise, it is also very close to the early-era look I am going for in my dress.

Late 18th-century striped cotton dress (RMN Grand Palais, Compiegne).

Another early example of stripes is this printed green-and-gold dress from the Museo del Traje in Madrid:

Early printed striped silk gown (Museo del Traje, c. 1795).

There are two more dresses with an earlier silhouette that both show off very special stripe patterns. The first is a black-and-white cotton dress from the Met museum. It boasts slightly wavy stripes that, I supect, were printed, rather than woven. The other dress was recently cleared from the Met’s collection and is now on auction. The floral stripes here are printed on a solid moire fabric.

American striped cotton dress (Metropolitan Museum, early 1800s).

Polychrome moire gown with printed floral stripes (c.1795).

About ten years later, dresses made from pastel silks seemed to be all the rage in terms of fashionable stripes. An example of the style is this mauve gown of tone-in-tone woven silk from 1807:

Silk gown (Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, c. 1807).

Quite similar at first glance is this mauve silk gown auctioned by Augusta Auctions. But here, the stripes are printed onto the fabric instead.

Mauve dress with printed stripes (Augusta Auctions, first decade of the 19th century).

This pretty, yellow gown from the V&A’s collection is also made from printed silk. Just like the mauve example above, it can be dated to the time around 1805. Based on the museum’s description, it features a drop-front closure and was originally worn over a “bum pad”.

Yellow silk gown with pink printed stripes (Victoria & Albert Museum, c. 1805).

The last dress on my inspiration board comes from a slightly later time frame, dating to the early 1820s. I included it since it shows a very interesting contrast between two-tone stripes, solid applique work and one of the textured floral fabrics that became popular later in the period.

American striped silk dress (Philadelphia Museum of Art, c. 1823).

This yummy example closes the long list of gorgeous Regency striped gowns. Whew, that has been quite a long list. I hope it has not overwhelmed you and provided you with some inspiration for your own future Regency dress projects, I would love to hear which of these gowns you liked best. Hoping to be back with you soon.

Much love, Nessa

Garters Galore

Today, the embroidery on the first garter has already come together. On this joyous occasion, I will delve into the subject of early 19th-century garters a little more and provide you with some delicious eye candy. ;)

But, first things first. Here is a look at the status quo of my embroidered garter fronts. By now they are both outlined in back stitch. And the bottom one is already filled with satin and stem stitch. Since some period garters also made do with rather sparse embroidery designs, I did get a bit lazy and decided against filling in all the flowers, too.

The embroidery progress on the garters.

I am quite content with how they are turning out, especially since I am a little pressed for time at the moment. But now, to the really gorgeous extant examples….

Up to the late 18th century, and into the very early 1800s, garters were mainly made of silk ribbons that tied at the top of the stockings to keep them in place. Embroidery was a staple. It was either placed directly on the ribbon or sewn to it, frequently with additional padding added underneath. Often, amorous and/or saucy mottoes were added to the designs. Here is a beautiful example of this style, using some delicious pink silk ribbon:

18th-century silk garters from the MFA, Boston. They read “My motto is to love you; it is never to change”.

Also have a look at this 18th-century pair with narrower ties and a wider embroidery section:

Another gorgeous pair of 18th-centuy garters from the MFA.

Further into the early 19th century, but already as early as 1800, innovation paved the way for another style of garters. It is elasticized using narrow steel springs in one half of the band. If you did not know it was steel, you could be tricked into believing you were actually looking at modern shirring, using elastic bands. This type of garter was fastened with a steel hook. For some time, both the tied and the hooked styles existed side by side. The following picture from the MFA shows them in comparison:

Comparison of tied and elasticized garters (Source: mfa.org).

Before I started researching, I had no idea that elasticized garters had already come into use this early on. And now, this style really fascinates me. Here are two more extant examples of early “elastic” garters that have served as my inspiration for the current project. :)

Early 19th-century garters, elasticized with coiled wire (Source: lacma.org).

Early 19th-century garters, auctioned by the Cora Ginsburg Gallery (Found on Pinterest).

There are so many more stunning and gorgeous extant period garters still in existence; more than enough, to fill several blog post. Just have a look around! I especially recommend browsing the MFA’s collection. It holds lots and lots of extant examples from various periods.

I hope this post has helped to awaken your interest in garters. Because, small as they may be, they provide some great examples of period craftsmanship. Even though I am not quite sure how “crafty” my pair will turn out, I will try and keep you posted on their progress.

Much Love, Nessa

Another Way Of Spiral Lacing – Or Not?

After posting about the finished stays yesterday, a little confusion arose about how to lace them in a period way. Of course, we all know that spiral lacing with offset eyelets was the most period-correct method of doing it before cross-lacing came around. But, when I looked at the stays, I had to frown: The eyelets on the sewing pattern were not offset, and so they were not offset on the finished garment, either. And still, the instructions suggested to use spiral lacing with the parallel eyelet set-up. How can that be?

The pattern cannot be at fault, since it is very closely based on an extant pair of long stays. And JoAnn Peterson, the pattern author, really knows her Regency garments and provides great research for all the sewing patterns she publishes. If she does not use offset the eyelets, she does it for a reason.

So here is what I found: Offset spiral lacing does not seem to be the only extant method of doing up garments. Up to the 18th century, the majority of documented bodices and stays were constructed with this lacing method in mind, since it provides the proper structure for tightening a corset. This is also what Jen Thompson’s research on spiral lacing suggests. Please do check out her blog for her finds and a very in-depth spiral lacing tutorial.

But this is not the end of the story. Offset spiral lacing has a sloppy little cousin: The parallel spiral. While researching period lacing methods, I lucked into a very old article with an engraving of 17th to 18th-century lacing patterns:

Diagram of extant lacing patterns from the 17th/18th century. (Please click image for article.)

Now look at pattern A and compare it to pattern E. Drawn up tightly, they would create a somewhat similar picture. The article’s author also admits that pattern E was the most common lacing style he has found in historical sources. But A definitely also existed in documentations. If it was used in corsetry, though, remains hard to say.

With this picture in mind, I went back to the pattern envelope of my stays, and looked at the pictures there. It turns out that pattern A was exactly what JoAnn referred to as “spiral lacing” in her instructions. So this is what I did. Now my stays look like this:

Parallel spiral lacing on the stays.

What does this mean for you as a costumer? If you want to imitate spiral lacing on stays or bodices with parallel eyelets, you do not have to resort to ladder lacing (pattern B above) right away, if you do not want to. You can try and use parallel spiral lacing instead. Even though the historical evidence remains somewhat patchy, it will get you a little closer to the desired effect. Maybe “closer” is not 100% accurate, but at the moment, it will do for me. ;) Using it has made self-lacing a bit easier than with the previous crossed pattern, too…

Wishing you a calm and happy week!

Warmly, Nessa
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